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Mark Twain > Christian Science > Book I - Chapter II

Christian Science

Book I - Chapter II

It was a night of anguish, of course-at least, I supposed it was, for it
had all the symptoms of it--but it passed at last, and the Christian
Scientist came, and I was glad She was middle-aged, and large and bony,
and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak
and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was
eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly
deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one
by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand, and hung the
articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out
of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it
without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without

"Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its
dumb servants."

I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she
detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative
tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no
use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so
that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence,
she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I
felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms.

"One does not feel," she explained; "there is no such thing as feeling:
therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent is a
contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the
mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it."

"But if it hurts, just the same--"

"It doesn't. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of
reality. Pain is unreal; hence, pain cannot hurt."

In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion
of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said
"Ouch!" and went tranquilly on with her talk. "You should never allow
yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you
are feeling; you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others
to talk about disease or pain or death or similar nonexistences in your
presence. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty
imaginings." Just at that point the Stuben-madchen trod on the cat's
tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat-profanity. I asked, with

"Is a cat's opinion about pain valuable?"

"A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from mind only; the lower
animals, being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without
mind, opinion is impossible."

"She merely imagined she felt a pain--the cat?"

"She cannot imagine a pain, for imagining is an effect of mind; without
mind, there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination."

"Then she had a real pain?"

"I have already told you there is no such thing as real pain."

"It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the
cat. Because, there being no such thing as a real pain, and she not
being able to imagine an imaginary one, it would seem that God in His
pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion
usable when her tail is trodden on which, for the moment, joins cat and
Christian in one common brotherhood of--"

She broke in with an irritated--

"Peace! The cat feels nothing, the Christian feels nothing. Your empty
and foolish imaginings are profanation and blasphemy, and can do you an
injury. It is wiser and better and holier to recognize and confess that
there is no such thing as disease or pain or death."

"I am full of imaginary tortures," I said, "but I do not think I could be
any more uncomfortable if they were real ones. What must I do to get rid
of them?"

"There is no occasion to get rid of them. since they do not exist. They
are illusions propagated by matter, and matter has no existence; there is
no such thing as matter."

"It sounds right and clear, but yet it seems in a degree elusive; it
seems to slip through, just when you think you are getting a grip on it."


"Well, for instance: if there is no such thing as matter, how can matter
propagate things?"

In her compassion she almost smiled. She would have smiled if there were
any such thing as a smile.

"It is quite simple," she said; "the fundamental propositions of
Christian Science explain it, and they are summarized in the four
following self-evident propositions:
1. God is All in all.
2. God is good. Good is Mind
3. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter
4. Life, God, omnipotent Good, deny death, evil, sin, disease.

"There--now you see."

It seemed nebulous; it did not seem to say anything about the difficulty
in hand--how non-existent matter can propagate illusions I said, with
some hesitancy:

"Does--does it explain?"

"Doesn't it? Even if read backward it will do it."

With a budding hope, I asked her to do it backwards.

"Very well. Disease sin evil death deny Good omnipotent God life matter
is nothing all being Spirit God Mind is Good good is God all in All is
God. There do you understand now?

"It--it--well, it is plainer than it was before; still--"


"Could you try it some more ways?"

"As many as you like; it always means the same. Interchanged in any way
you please it cannot be made to mean anything different from what it
means when put in any other way. Because it is perfect. You can jumble
it all up, and it makes no difference: it always comes out the way it was
before. It was a marvelous mind that produced it. As a mental tour de
force it is without a mate, it defies alike the simple, the concrete, and
the occult."

"It seems to be a corker."

I blushed for the word, but it was out before I could stop it.

"A what?"

"A--wonderful structure--combination, so to speak, of profound thoughts--
unthinkable ones--um--"

It is true. Read backward, or forward, or perpendicularly, or at any
given angle, these four propositions will always be found to agree in
statement and proof."

"Ah--proof. Now we are coming at it. The statements agree; they agree
with--with--anyway, they agree; I noticed that; but what is it they prove
I mean, in particular?"

"Why, nothing could be clearer. They prove:

"1. GOD--Principle, Life,
Truth, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind. Do you get that?"

"I--well, I seem to. Go on, please."

"2. MAN--God's universal idea, individual, perfect, eternal. Is it

"It--I think so. Continue."

"3. IDEA--An image in Mind; the immediate object of understanding.
There it is--the whole sublime Arcana of Christian Science in a nutshell.
Do you find a weak place in it anywhere?"

"Well--no; it seems strong."

"Very well There is more. Those three constitute the Scientific
Definition of Immortal Mind. Next, we have the Scientific Definition of
Mortal Mind. Thus. FIRST DEGREE: Depravity I. Physical-Passions and
appetites, fear, depraved will, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge,
sin, disease, death."

"Phantasms, madam--unrealities, as I understand it."

"Every one. SECOND DEGREE: Evil Disappearing. I. Moral-Honesty,
affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance. Is it clear?"


"THIRD DEGREE: Spiritual Salvation. I. Spiritual-Faith, wisdom, power,
purity, understanding, health, love. You see how searchingly and co-
ordinately interdependent and anthropomorphous it all is. In this Third
Degree, as we know by the revelations of Christian Science, mortal mind

"Not earlier?"

"No, not until the teaching and preparation for the Third Degree are

"It is not until then that one is enabled to take hold of Christian
Science effectively, and with the right sense of sympathy and kinship,
as I understand you. That is to say, it could not succeed during the
processes of the Second Degree, because there would still be remains of
mind left; and therefore--but I interrupted you. You were about to
further explain the good results proceeding from the erosions and
disintegrations effected by the Third Degree. It is very interesting;
go on, please."

"Yes, as I was saying, in this Third Degree mortal mind disappears.
Science so reverses the evidence before the corporeal human senses as to
make this scriptural testimony true in our hearts, 'the last shall be
first and the first shall be last,' that God and His idea may be to us--
what divinity really is, and must of necessity be all-inclusive."

"It is beautiful. And with what exhaustive exactness your choice and
arrangement of words confirm and establish what you have claimed for the
powers and functions of the Third Degree. The Second could probably
produce only temporary absence of mind; it is reserved to the Third to
make it permanent. A sentence framed under the auspices of the Second
could have a kind of meaning--a sort of deceptive semblance of it--
whereas it is only under the magic of the Third that that defect would
disappear. Also, without doubt, it is the Third Degree that contributes
another remarkable specialty to Christian Science--viz., ease and flow
and lavishness of words, and rhythm and swing and smoothness. There must
be a special reason for this?"

"Yes--God--all, all--God, good God, non-Matter, Matteration, Spirit,
Bones, Truth."

"That explains it."

"There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable; for God is
one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one
of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not
one of a series, but one alone and without an equal."

"These are noble thoughts. They make one burn to know more. How does
Christian Science explain the spiritual relation of systematic duality to
incidental deflection?"

"Christian Science reverses the seeming relation of Soul and body--as
astronomy reverses the human perception of the movement of the solar
system--and makes body tributary to the Mind. As it is the earth which
is in motion, While the sun is at rest, though in viewing the sun rise
one finds it impossible to believe the sun not to be really rising, so
the body is but the humble servant of the restful Mind, though it seems
otherwise to finite sense; but we shall never understand this while we
admit that soul is in body, or mind in matter, and that man is included
in non-intelligence. Soul is God, unchangeable and eternal; and man
coexists with and reflects Soul, for the All-in-all is the Altogether,
and the Altogether embraces the All-one, Soul-Mind, Mind-Soul, Love,
Spirit, Bones, Liver, one of a series, alone and without an equal."

"What is the origin of Christian Science? Is it a gift of God, or did it
just happen?"

"In a sense, it is a gift of God. That is to say, its powers are from
Him, but the credit of the discovery of the powers and what they are for
is due to an American lady."

"Indeed? When did this occur?"

"In 1866. That is the immortal date when pain and disease and death
disappeared from the earth to return no more forever. That is, the
fancies for which those terms stand disappeared. The things themselves
had never existed; therefore, as soon as it was perceived that there were
no such things, they were easily banished. The history and nature of the
great discovery are set down in the book here, and--"

"Did the lady write the book?"

"Yes, she wrote it all, herself. The title is Science and Health, with
Key to the Scriptures--for she explains the Scriptures; they were not
understood before. Not even by the twelve Disciples. She begins thus--
I will read it to you."

But she had forgotten to bring her glasses.

"Well, it is no matter," she said. "I remember the words--indeed, all
Christian Scientists know the book by heart; it is necessary in our
practice. We should otherwise make mistakes and do harm. She begins
thus: 'In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical
Healing, and named it Christian Science.' And She says quite beautifully,
I think--'Through Christian Science, religion and medicine are inspired
with a diviner nature and essence, fresh pinions are given to faith and
understanding, and thoughts acquaint themselves intelligently with God.'
Her very words."

"It is elegant. And it is a fine thought, too--marrying religion to
medicine, instead of medicine to the undertaker in the old way; for
religion and medicine properly belong together, they being the basis of
all spiritual and physical health. What kind of medicine do you give for
the ordinary diseases, such as--"

"We never give medicine in any circumstances whatever! We--"

"But, madam, it says--"

"I don't care what it says, and I don't wish to talk about it."

"I am sorry if I have offended, but you see the mention seemed in some
way inconsistent, and--"

"There are no inconsistencies in Christian Science. The thing is
impossible, for the Science is absolute. It cannot be otherwise, since
it proceeds directly from the All-in-all and the Everything-in-Which,
also Soul, Bones, Truth, one of a series, alone and without equal. It is
Mathematics purified from material dross and made spiritual."

"I can see that, but--"

"It rests upon the immovable basis of an Apodictical Principle."

The word flattened itself against my mind in trying to get in, and
disordered me a little, and before I could inquire into its pertinency,
she was already throwing the needed light:

"This Apodictical Principle is the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-
healing, the sovereign Omnipotence which delivers the children of men
from pain, disease, decay, and every ill that flesh is heir to."

"Surely not every ill, every decay?"

"Every one; there are no exceptions; there is no such thing as decay--it
is an unreality, it has no existence."

"But without your glasses your failing eyesight does not permit you to--"

"My eyesight cannot fail; nothing can fail; the Mind is master, and the
Mind permits no retrogression."

She was under the inspiration of the Third Degree, therefore there could
be no profit in continuing this part of the subject. I shifted to other
ground and inquired further concerning the Discoverer of the Science.

"Did the discovery come suddenly, like Klondike, or after long study and
calculation, like America?"

"The comparisons are not respectful, since they refer to trivialities--
but let it pass. I will answer in the Discoverer's own words: 'God had
been graciously fitting me, during many years, for the reception of a
final revelation of the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-healing."

"Many years. How many?"

"Eighteen centuries!"

"All--God, God--good, good--God, Truth, Bones, Liver, one of a series,
alone and without equal--it is amazing!"

"You may well say it, sir. Yet it is but the truth This American lady,
our revered and sacred Founder, is distinctly referred to, and her coming
prophesied, in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse; she could not have
been more plainly indicated by St. John without actually mentioning her

"How strange, how wonderful!"

"I will quote her own words, from her Key to the Scriptures: 'The twelfth
chapter of the Apocalypse has a special suggestiveness in connection with
this nineteenth century.' There--do you note that? Think--note it well."

"But--what does it mean?"

"Listen, and you will know. I quote her inspired words again: 'In the
opening of the Sixth Seal, typical of six thousand years since Adam,
there is one distinctive feature which has special reference to the
present age. Thus:

"'Revelation xii. I. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven--a
woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her
head a crown of twelve stars.'

"That is our Head, our Chief, our Discoverer of Christian Science--
nothing can be plainer, nothing surer. And note this:

"'Revelation xii. 6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she
had a place prepared of God.'

"That is Boston. I recognize it, madam. These are sublime things, and
impressive; I never understood these passages before; please go on with
the--with the--proofs."

"Very well. Listen:

"'And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a
cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the
sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he held in his hand a little

"A little book, merely a little book--could words be modester? Yet how
stupendous its importance! Do you know what book that was?"

"Was it--"

"I hold it in my hand--Christian Science!"

"Love, Livers, Lights, Bones, Truth, Kidneys, one of a series, alone and
without equal--it is beyond imagination for wonder!"

"Hear our Founder's eloquent words: 'Then will a voice from harmony cry,
"Go and take the little book: take it and eat it up, and it shall make
thy belly bitter; but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." Mortal,
obey the heavenly evangel. Take up Divine Science. Read it from
beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. It will be, indeed, sweet at its
first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find
its digestion bitter.' You now know the history of our dear and holy
Science, sir, and that its origin is not of this earth, but only its
discovery. I will leave the book with you and will go, now; but give
yourself no uneasiness--I will give you absent treatment from now till I
go to bed."

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